ERA Sharjah Preview
This weekend’s Sharjah card will centre around speed as impressive fields assemble for the two sprinting co-features, each carrying a handsome purse of AED200,000.
The HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Cup for the thoroughbreds forms the first leg of the Emirates Sprint Series and sees the return of defending champion Road Bloc who landed both this and the Jebel Ali Sprint to land the bonus in the series’ inaugural year last season.
He is two from two over straight tracks and Sharjah is his training backyard, so dismiss him at your peril.
It will be Zabeel’s sprinting star Tuz, however, that grabs all the attention having landed the Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint earlier in the year before a respectable seventh in the premier Dubai Golden Shaheen. The 112-rated Bhupat Seemar-trainee has been a quirky customer over the years, but found his true calling in the sprint division and is the clear pick on form here.
The Meydan form of Leading Spirit will be put to the test as veteran sprinters Al Tariq and Alkaraama, who finished fourth and seventh on that occasion, take their chance. The best looks past this pair, and they firmly remain to be on their comeback missions.
Others of note in the race include last season’s Jebel Ali Sprint runner-up Story Of Light who goes well fresh and Ever Given who remains a bit of an unknown for the Salem bin Ghadayer team. Having showed promise on his UAE debut in the Firebreak Stakes last campaign, he folded up quickly in a 1400m handicap subsequently. Found to be lame thereafter he remains an interesting contender now dropped to sprinting, especially as there was a reason for that disappointment.
Pinheiro pick could be the answer to Cup puzzle
The Purebred Arabian equivalent, the HH The Crown Prince of Sharjah Cup, looks set to be dominated by the Al Wathba Racing battalion, led by the Majed Al Jahoori duo of Asmaa Al Wathba and Bassam Al Wathba. The latter is the pick of Bernardo Pinheiro, which could be a strong pointer.
Although this will be his first run on the dirt, he has shown immense speed in his races and the confirmed stamina gained from being a 1400m horse or a miler always comes in handy in sprints up the Sharjah straight.
The filly Asmaa Al Wathba, on the other hand, is a course and distance winner and was successful over the minimum 1000m at Al Ain on her ultimate run last season so deserves consideration.
Rookie trainer Adil Mouchahi has already enjoyed two winners from 17 starts this season and he dispatches the consistent Yas Xmnsor.
A Sharjah regular, he landed this race last season denying the reopposing AF Marmuq in what was a close finish but has since tackled and performed well against much stronger rivals, so it looks unlikely for that form to be reversed.
The only handicap on the card, a 2000m contest for 0-80 rated Purebred Arabians, could go to Aljamri, the mount of Sam Hitchcott, who kept on for second over what looked an inadequate mile trip.
Maximum fields of 16 go to post for the remaining three highly competitive-looking Purebred Arabian maidens on the card.